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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Educate and train our teachers so they can help our students thrive

Michigan needs a good teacher in every classroom. Research shows students with well-prepared teachers can gain four months or more additional academic growth each year, helping struggling students catch up. Students with poor teachers never catch up.

Michigan's $12,644 per pupil funding is 22nd in the US, 8th adjusted for per-capita income (US Census Bureau). Our Nation's Report Card math and English scores hover around 38th. At about $65,000 adjusted for different costs of living, our teacher salaries rank first ( Good teachers deserve great pay, but Michigan's spending and NAEP scores are significantly mismatched.

Student achievement is rising faster in other states which spend less, but teach smarter.
What lessons can we learn from them and Michigan's "Beating the Odds Schools", where at-risk students learn well with fewer resources? How can we "connect the dots" for higher achievement? These measures would help.

Certification requirements for new teachers should measure their readiness for classroom success. Education schools could then focus on how children learn best to improve teacher preparation.

Districts should hire strong school leaders who choose their teachers. Effective principals with dedicated school teams committed to student improvement change lives.

Teachers deserve research-based, quality professional learning during employment to improve their skills. Teachers say there isn't enough quality professional learning available for our new standards.

Mentor new teachers so they start strong, stay and flourish.

Teachers should use classroom technology well. Already, Michigan has "flipped" classrooms; blended instruction; online education websites; MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses); and networking with classrooms around the world.

Stay the course on rigor and assessments showing academic growth. Without good data, schools organize around adult concerns rather than student learning needs. Michigan teachers need good data to improve their instruction.

Support competent, professional teacher and administrator evaluation. It's showing its worth in other states. Where educators start isn't as important as where they finish after solid training and support.

Use tenure and seniority better. Good teachers should be retained in layoffs. Poor evaluations over a reasonable time must move out unsuccessful teachers quickly for our students' sakes.

Use differentiated compensation to incent teachers for mentoring, staffing specialty instruction areas, etc. Other states use district-level merit pay for extra work or skills.

Successful teachers are a win for everyone. They are critical for Michigan's economic future. Our children are depending on us.

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